This past week, the Collegian published a story regarding Campus Senate’s Oct. 7 meeting with members of K-SWOC. As outlined in the article, the Collegian was informed on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 4 that our staff was not allowed to report on or record the meetings’ breakout discussions. When they went to the event, however, reporters were told that they would not be able to enter the breakout rooms in the first place.
The Collegian was not included in this decision-making process, which is an insult in itself. We were told by both members of Senate and the administration where and when we could and couldn’t send our reporters. There is no way of getting around the fact that this incident is a clear attack on the freedom of the press.
Even though Kenyon is a private institution and is technically not bound by the U.S. Constitution’s freedom of the press, the Campus Senate’s attempt to restrict the Collegian’s reporting of a public meeting is deeply concerning. The fact that the Collegian was not allowed to even record the breakout rooms, let alone gather background information, demonstrates a clear sign of fear on the administration’s behalf: fear both of what student employee unionization could mean for the College and how their missteps in handling it might be depicted by the Collegian.
But we would be remiss if we were to only emphasize the ways in which this incident threatened freedom of the press. The more pressing question at hand is this: Why would an administration, with an already poor track record regarding transparency, exclude its student newspaper from a meeting which is being held for the presumed purpose of transparency? The meeting was public; anyone in the College community could register to attend. If the Collegian was not allowed to record it, why even bother making it a public meeting?
The exclusion of Collegian reporters from the breakout rooms also suggests that the administration knew its members would say or do something it does not want us — the Collegian, the student body and the Kenyon community — to hear.
But this is precisely where the administration erred: By keeping its newspaper in the dark, the administration prioritized its desire to save face over the trust of its community. This incident was yet another example of members of Kenyon’s administration refusing to be completely transparent and open with the community.
However, this incident is bigger than K-SWOC and bigger than the Collegian. The way the administration handled the meeting just gives the student body another reason to distrust it.
The staff editorial is written weekly by editors-in-chief Mae Hunt ’21 and Evey Weisblat ’21, managing editor Sophie Krichevsky ’21 and executive director Elizabeth Stanley ’21. You can contact them at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.